By Justin Sutton/Special to the Journal
OCEAN SPRINGS – After seeing their hopes of a title nearly end on Saturday, Sonya McCormick’s 3.5 women’s team took advantage of a little luck and claimed the USTA adult league championship on Sunday, winning two matches to bring the state title to Tupelo.
The Tupelo team almost missed the final rounds after finishing second in their flight, but a second-place team was set to advance to the semifinals through a blind draw.
That team was McCormick’s.
“We didn’t think we were going to get into the finals,” said McCormick. “When they drew and we heard ‘McCormick,’ we went ballistic.”
Taking advantage of the second chance, the squad picked up a four courts to one win in the semifinals Sunday morning to set up a championship match with a league winner from the Delta.
Tupelo’s Amanda James beat Lauren Ashford 6-4, 6-0 at No. 1 singles, but the Delta squad rallied back when Angel Deangelo downed Jamie Clayton 6-2, 6-0 at No. 2 singles.
With the singles matches splitting, drama built on the doubles courts. The No. 2 doubles was the first to produce a result. Lou Jones and Jennifer Jones defeated Tupelo’s Anne Marie Littrell and Beatrice Washington 0-6, 6-3, 1-0 (11) to give the Delta a 2-1 edge.
At No. 1 doubles, McCormick and Ellen Stephens rallied from a 2-5 hole for a 7-5, 6-2 win to even the championship at 2-2 as the No. 3 doubles moved to a match tiebreaker between Tupelo’s Laurie Bishop and Tabitha Pitts and the Delta’s Melanie Sanders and Linda Harkins.
“We knew that we had won a singles court, and we heard our No. 1 doubles team when they won their court,” said Bishop.
“We knew it was going to be up to us to win state,” said Pitts. “It was nerve wracking, but we knew we could pull it out.”
Bishop and Pitts opened up a large lead in the tiebreaker, but found themselves tied at 8-8 before a Bishop hit an overhead winner for a clinching 7-5, 6-7 (3), 1-0 (9) victory.
The team will play in the Southern Sectional championship – dubbed the world’s largest tennis tournament – in Mobile, Ala., on July 30-Aug. 2.
Earlier Sunday, Jonathan McCoy’s Tupelo-based team dropped a 3-2 decision in the men’s 3.5 finals.
Sonya McCormick, Captain
Angela Jean Bell
Anne Marie Littrell